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Small group ideas

Small groups are excellent ways to enable questions to be asked, or to go deeper with some. Mix them up. Groups of 4 will feel very different to groups of ten. You can have year 9 boys in one, year 9 girls in another, or mix up the sexes, or the ages! Or why not do something completely different. See some ideas below.

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choose your own small group

Once on a residential, there was a large number of year 13 guys and very few year 12s, so we made two groups, then split them, but we split them by maturity (without telling them and yes, we may have been completely wrong). Everyone came back from that residential talking about how much fun they had in those groups - I had so many people tell me about the amount of laughter - but they had also made big steps forward in their faith. 

Here's an adaptation of that idea: If you've got sufficient young people and leaders, why not get your youth to choose their own small group - going deep or looking on? They can choose. 

Sara Parsons, Youth Pastor at St. Aldate's, Oxford, UK came up with four groups for her young people to choose: On the beach, paddling, snorkelling or scuba diving. Over time, you may need to encourage some people to move from snorkelling to scuba diving, say, who don't quite feel ready for it, but groups like these may be helpful to find where people think they are in terms of faith, enabling leaders to talk at the right level for them, helping them to go deeper, without being concealed by others in the group who are already mature. If you've got a large youth team, you'll probably already be able to think of which leader could lead each group.

EASY WINS IN A SMALL GROUP, WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT BE ROUND A FIRE PIT

It's really valuable to think about what you're trying to achieve: A warm welcome? Relationship-building? Fun? Deeper conversations? Prayer and response?

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STARTERS

WOULD YOU RATHER?

GLOW

LOW

HERO

High point, low point, and hero of the week

10 SECONDS

In 10 seconds, each person must name a boy's name, girl's name, animal, town/city, country beginning with a chosen letter. They've got to be said in the right order as well. Choose a different letter for each person.

TOP THREE

Movies, YouTubers, Instagrammers, interests, memories, possessions, foods, bands, books, sports, teachers, etc.

Share it in twos, then feedback.

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SUSSED

Great card game to get people talking

GAMES RESOURCES

DRAW IT

Give each person a piece of white card and a pencil. Show them a line drawing for 10 seconds, then hide it for another minute or so while people finish their drawing. The most accurate copy wins. Each person can then draw something for others to copy.

* This link will take you to Conversation Starters World. I have no affiliation with the website, nor have I checked every suggestion it gives, but it will give you some ideas and will kickstart some more.

** This link will take you to the Sussed website if you want to find out more or buy the game. I have no affiliation with Sussed.

Starter& main

Get hold of a Fusion DMC (Deep, meaningful conversations) deck or a Discipleship deck to give you some great conversations. These are designed for students, so not all will be appropriate for all youth. You might want to take out some  cards beforehand.

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Raising the Bar Fire Pit (Tom Swinnen on

MAINS

FAVOURITE BIBLE STORY

All play. 

FAVOURITE BIBLE BOOK

All play. 

TESTIMONY

Prepare one to share (maybe start with a leader), then others can ask questions!***

FAVOURITE BIBLE VERSE

All play

*** If someone wouldn't call themselves a Christian, you could say, 'Could you tell me how you've come on a journey in the general direction of God?' or even, 'What brought you or keeps you coming to this group?'

Raising the Bar Fire Pit (Tom Swinnen on

MORE

MAINS

DISCUSS A VERSE

Prepare one to discuss that young people will engage well with, or young person can bring one.

WHAT QUESTION DO YOU MOST GET ASKED ABOUT CHRISTIANITY?

WHICH BIT OF THE BIBLE DO YOU STRUGGLE MOST TO UNDERSTAND?

MORE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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DESSERTS

Some groups will find it easy to pray, others almost impossible. Help people to pray by making it really easy, then build up.

FILL IN THE GAP...

WITH A PERSON

Say, "'Dear God, I pray for...' then put in someone's name. Might be a friend who's having a hard time, a relative who's sick, or whatever. Everyone thought of someone? I'll start and you can go next. Dear God, I pray for...' You can make it relevant to what you've talked about if that fits.

FILL IN THE GAP...

WITH A PLACE

Say, "'Dear God, I pray for...' then put in a country or a group of people. Might be a place where there is war, or a group of people who are treated unfairly, or whatever. Everyone thought of a place? If you really can't think of somewhere, then just say, 'Pass'.  I'll start and you can go next. Dear God, I pray for...' You can make it relevant to what you've talked about if that fits.

SILENCE

Yes, you can do this, even with young people.

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Young people love to sit round a a fire pit!

Be creative:

  • Give young people marshmallows to toast (you can buy extra-long skewers)

  • Get individual portions of chips delivered

  • Ask an ice cream van to visit (yes, it may still be cold in the evenings, but is it ever too cold for ice cream?!)

  • Or a hot dog van 

  • Or a hot chocolate van

Don't use a gazebo with a fire pit - what's the Worst Case Scenario? And always keep a fire extinguisher close at hand.

Here's a starting point for a risk assessment for a fire pit. It's our best go at it, but there may be other things in your context that are important. So, use this as a starting point, but don't rely on us getting it right, think about it yourself too. Thanks to Lorraine Fletcher at St. Peter's, Woolton for your help with this. As ever, if you can improve it, get in touch.

MORE RESOURCES

Raising the Bar Escape Room Round the Wo

FIND OUT MORE AND DOWNLOAD ESCAPE ROOMS

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DISCIPLESHIP RESOURCES

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GAMES RESOURCES

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OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

ENJOYING THESE ONLINE RESOURCES?

Get more ideas and support for your youth ministry with my book: "RAISING THE BAR: Nearly Everything You Need to Know about Christian Youth Ministry."

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"Raising the Bar gives a step-by-step explanation of what creating good youth ministry looks like."

 

Ben Horrex (Premier Youth and Children's Work magazine)

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